By Lincoln DePradine
As the top Grenada diplomat in Toronto, Gerry Hopkin says the office at 90 Eglinton Avenue East will continue to provide traditional consular services such as the issuing and renewing of passports.
However, Hopkin pledges that there will be a new accented focus on the position he now holds as consul general.
He’s placing a “lot of emphasis on trade, investment and export development’’, Hopkins said last Friday at a “networking reception’’ at the consulate general. It was titled, “Meet, Greet & Engage for Continuity & Transformation’’.
“I want to help folks to think about things that we can do, not matter how small or large or mid-sized; we all can do something,’’ Hopkin told The Caribbean Camera.
“Because I value continuity, I will respect my predecessors who paved the way; I will credit them for the good they have done for us; and, I will build on what they have done and add value to it.’’
Hopkin replaces Dawne Francois as consul general.
Since his arrival in Toronto, Hopkin has been involved in what he describes as a series of “Diaspora community engagements’’, and said the “networking reception’’ was to further introduce himself to Grenadians in Toronto, as well as “to get to know the folks who are the leaders in the community’’.
According to Hopkin, the invitation to the reception was extended to Grenadians that are leaders and influencers in various sectors including business, community service, the clergy and the entertainment industry.
“I invited over 60 people who are leaders in the community so that I can engage them and share with them the agenda, what we would like to accomplish beyond consular services, with more emphasis on trade and investment and export development,’’ he said.
Part of the Friday evening get-together included an interactive virtual segment with Grenadian lawyer and agribusiness entrepreneur, Tricia Simon; Leslie McQueen, Grenada consular office in Florida; Grenada’s Diaspora Ambassador, Terry Forrester; and chief executive officer of the Grenada Investment Development Corporation (GIDC) Ronald Theodore.
The objectives of the reception, and the “Diaspora community engagements’’, include increasing investments in Grenada’s productive sector by Grenadians living in Canada and elsewhere, said Hopkin.
The activities also are designed to enhance trade between Grenada and Canada and to increase tourism arrivals in Grenada.
In his outreach so far, said Hopkin, he has had meetings with business leaders, “who are in a position to invest and do more to contribute to the Grenadian economy in health and wellness and the productive sector’’.
Investment isn’t “just as a million-dollar thing’’, Hopkin explained.
“You don’t have to have a million-plus dollars before you could start investing in Grenada. It could just simply be a matter of partnering with a farmer who wants to upgrade, or someone in agroindustry, and enhance what they’re doing, so they could do a better job at producing.’’
Spending, as well, is “not only investing in Grenada’’, Hopkin suggested.
“You could invest here in Canada, too, and be helping the Grenadian economy. You could invest in a warehouse, so that when we bring up our goods here, they can be warehoused and properly stored,’’ he said.
“You could invest in a distribution company and you find the outlets where our products can be sold and make that your business right here; and, that’s investing in Grenada.’’
Grenada, which includes Carriacou and Petite Martinique, attained independence from Britain on February 7, 1974.
The country has launched a year-long program of commemorative events. The theme is, “One People, One Journey, One Future’’
“The theme is one we all embrace,’’ Hopkin said. “We’re going to make it a grand celebration of our heritage, our history, our accomplishments, and learning from the lessons of the past as well in the process.’’